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SA Health To Fund Additional Eye Clinics PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 30 September 2014

After extensive lobbying by the Macular Disease Foundation Australia on behalf of patients, their carers and families, SA Health has confirmed funding for an additional seven eye clinics per month. This means that South Australians living with wet age-related macular degeneration (primarily older Australians), and people living with other macular diseases such as diabetic eye disease, will now receive timely treatment which can help save their sight.

Julie Heraghty, CEO of Macular Disease Foundation Australia says, "Access and affordability to sight saving treatment via the SA hospital system for those with wet age related macular degeneration is critical. We must have a safety net in our public health system for those in genuine need. I am pleased Minister Snelling and SA Health have listened to community concerns."

The Foundation embarked on an ongoing advocacy campaign in March 2014 in response to calls from concerned South Australians unable to access timely treatment for their wet age-related macular degeneration through the public health system. Some patients were waiting up to three times as long as they should for sight-saving injections.

Professor Dinesh Selva of the Royal Adelaide Hospitals says the additional seven clinics will allow them to give the basic standard of care to patients. "SA Health is aware of the importance of timely treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration and the extra clinics will allow us to do this effectively. We could not have achieved this without the support and advocacy efforts of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia."

The Foundation had urged Minister Snelling and SA Health to work closely with ophthalmologists at the Royal Adelaide Hospital to find a quick and workable outcome, enabling patients to receive the timely treatment they so urgently required.

OBA and AHPRA Publish Health Profession Agreement PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 26 September 2014

The Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) have published the Health Profession Agreement that outlines the partnership between the OBA and AHPRA, and the services AHPRA will provide to OBA in 2014/2015.

OBA and AHPRA work together to implement the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, (National Scheme), which is the scheme regulating registered health practitioners in Australia, in the public interest.

The guiding principles of the National Law require the National Scheme to operate in a "transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair way"; and for registration fees to be reasonable "having regard to the efficient and effective operation of the scheme". One of the fundamental aspects of the National Scheme is that there is no cross-subsidisation between professions. This means that the regulation of each profession is entirely paid for by that profession's registration fees.

Optometry Board Chair, Mr Colin Waldron, said that it was important that the profession and the community know how registration fees are used in regulating the profession in the public interest. "We are accountable to both the profession and the community to ensure we provide as much information as possible about how registration fees are allocated to regulate the profession in Australia," Mr Waldron said.

AHPRA CEO, Martin Fletcher, said that the Board and AHPRA were committed to working together to ensure not only transparency and accountability in financial reporting, but also in the role both play in protecting the public through the regulation of the profession. "AHPRA and the Board work together to implement the National Scheme following the guiding principles set out in the National Law in order to protect the public," Mr Fletcher said.

Online Registration Renewal Now Open For Optometrists PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Online renewal of registration to practise in Australia is now open for optometrists. About 4,700 optometrists who are due to renew their general or non-practising registration with the Optometry Board of Australia (the Board) by 30 November can submit an online application now. Under the National Law , all registered health practitioners are responsible for renewing their registration on time each year. Last year more than 96.3 per cent of all health practitioner registration renewals due by 30 November (12 professions) were submitted online. An increase of 6.3 per cent.

"Online renewal is quick and easy and it's fantastic to see an annual increase in the number of optometrists using this secure service", Optometry Board Chair Colin Waldron said. The Board announced last month that it had reduced the registration fee for the registration period from 1 December 2014 to 30 November 2015 to $365. Fees can be confirmed on the Board's website. The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme is funded by practitioners' registration fees and there is no cross subsidisation between professions. A series of reminders to renew are being sent to practitioners with a registered email address by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), on behalf of the Board. The reminders include a link to online renewal.

Mr Waldron said optometrists whose contact details had not changed did not need to do anything. However, he urged others to act soon if they had not provided AHPRA with updated information. ‘Make sure AHPRA has your current contact information so you don’t miss future email and hard copy reminders to renew,’ he said. ‘Registering your email address also means you won’t miss important regulatory updates from the Board.’ Mr Waldron reminded optometrists to carefully read the Board’s registration standards which specify the requirements for practice. ‘You could be asked to provide information in support of your declarations so it’s important to know what the requirements are for registration to practise before you apply.’

Centre for Eye Research Australia Opens Automated Stem Cell Facility PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 19 September 2014

The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) has opened this week the Automated Stem Cell Facility and brought Australia's unique new stem cell robot to life. CERA purchased the automated system after a generous donation from Peter and Joan Clemenger who are passionate in their support for eye research.

Using adult stem cells, sourced from the skin cells of patients, CERA researchers produce eye cells for disease modelling which allow for new drug therapies to be developed. The automated system can tirelessly maintain the stem cells required for the study of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other eye diseases leading to vision loss.

Vision Australia Provides Innovative Online Book Player to Visually Impaired PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Although she has very poor vision, thanks to an innovative Online talking book player developed by Vision Australia, Lesley McEwan, 60 from Willoughby reads more than sixteen books per month. Lesley has poor sight due to cataracts. An operation to remove the cataract on her left eye left her vision foggy and she has a cataract on her right eye. She also has type-two diabetes and a heart condition that limits her mobility.

"I really enjoy receiving audio books from Vision Australia. With the new player, I just have to call and they are automatically downloaded. It is much faster than waiting to receive CD’s in the mail," says Leslie.

The Online player was developed by Vision Australia to assist people with a print disability who do not have the capability or confidence to access online content. It involves bundling 3G (wireless broadband) internet technology into existing (DAISY) players that people are already familiar with. The player connects directly to Vision Australia’s i-access© online library to access the wide range of books, newspapers, magazines and other topical information. The device is simple to use and the user does not need their own computer or internet connection.

"With the majority of our clients being older and with difficulties accessing content on the internet, we needed to develop a solution that would provide online access to a greater variety of information in a user friendly and effective way," says Andrew Furlong, Technology Support Manager at the Vision Australia Library. "The 3G solution means that people can now get information immediately wherever they are on a device they are happy to use," he added.

The Online audio book player will be demonstrated at Vision Australia’s Texpo exhibition in October. Texpo showcases a range of Vision Australia services, including Seeing Eye Dogs, and the latest adaptive technology designed to assist people with vision impairments to live the lives they choose. It is a free event, which is open to the general public, people who are blind or have low vision, their friends and family, and industry professionals.

NSW Spectacles Program Successfully Relaunched PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Over 4,500 applications for spectacles have been received following Vision Australia’s relaunch of the NSW Spectacles Program in July 2014.

Vision Australia’s new delivery approach streamlines the application process, provides greater information and resources to optometrists/dispensers and improves delivery times to recipients of glasses.

Kyriacos Mavrolefteros a Maroubra based optometrist who also delivers services in remote NSW, identifies two big advantages to the new approach.

“After trialling the new system, the biggest benefit is being able get an immediate response on a patient’s eligibility. The online form only takes around three to four minutes to complete and the response comes through straight away,” says Mr Mavrolefteros.

“I also like being able to process orders directly with my suppliers,” says Mr Mavrolefteros. “Instead of waiting up to four weeks, patients receive their spectacles within a week. It is much more efficient.”

Mr Mavrolefteros, who has been involved with the NSW Spectacles Program for around 20 years, processes around 400 applications for spectacles annually, 200 of which are for patients living in regional and remote areas.

“Susie, from Vision Australia came out to my clinic to train two of my staff on how to use the new online system. She also assisted us to process a backlog of applications,” he said. “Vision Australia has been very helpful throughout the transition,” he added.

Michael Christensen from The Optical shop in Campbelltown says it gives him a new avenue for sale stock.

“For the first time, there is another option to turn over last season’s premium stock. Instead of having a sale, I can use older frames for the program,” he said.

Like Mr Mavrolefteros, Mr Christensen also felt that he was able to offer a faster service to his patients.

“Because I fit the lenses to the fames on site, patients receive their glasses in a matter of days not months. The remuneration is far better and the online form is quick and easy to use,” he said.

“I understand that the administration of the scheme is an evolutionary process, and I have been impressed with Vision Australia’s ability to resolve issues quickly,” said Mr Christensen.

The NSW Spectacles Program provides Government funded glasses and vision aids to eligible people including the elderly, children, people experiencing homelessness, those living in rural and remote areas, people with disability and Aboriginal and multicultural communities

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